Shawn Lawson

Professor, Arts

Shawn Lawson, Professor of Computer Visualization, is a computational artist and researcher creating the computational sublime. Performing under the pseudonym Obi-Wan Codenobi, he live-codes real-time computer graphics with his open source software, The Force. Lawson’s other work explores with a range of technology: stereoscopy, camera vision, touch screens, game controllers, hand-held devices, random number generators; and output formats: print, sculpture, mobile apps, instruction sets, animation, and interactive.

He has performed at NIME, Australia; Radical dB, Spain; ICLI, Portugal; ICLC, UK; ISEA, Canada; GENERATE!, Germany; CultureHub, NYC, and more. Shawn’s artwork has been exhibited or screened in museums, galleries, festivals, and public spaces in England, Denmark, Russia, Italy, Korea, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, and Canada; locally in ACM SIGGRAPH, IEEE ProCams, ACM MM, The Art Institute of Chicago, Milwaukee Art Museum, Chelsea Art Museum, Eyebeam, Aperture Foundation Gallery, Nicholas Robinson Gallery, MIT, OSU, ASU, and LTU. He has given workshops in programming or live coding in Europe and the USA. Shawn is published in the proceedings of ICLC, ACM CC, ACM SIGGRAPH, ACM SIGCHI, and ACM MM. 

Lawson has received support from the Electronic Media and Film Program of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the Experimental Television Center’s Finishing Funds Program, The Kamel Lazaar Foundation, CultureHub’s Micro-Residency, and Signal Culture’s Toolmakers in Residency.

Lawson studied Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University and École Nationale Supèrieure des Beaux-Arts. He received his MFA in Art and Technology Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003. He is a Professor of Computer Visualization in the Department of Art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and selectively consults for independent artists and entertainment R&D branches.


MFA 2003, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
BFA, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh PA and École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France

Research Focus
  • live coding
  • realtime graphics
  • interactive art
  • computational sublime
  • locative mobile art
  • visualization
Select Works
  • “Performative Code: Strategies for Live Coding Graphics.” Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Live Coding. 2015.
  • “Sarlacc.” Proceedings of the 11th ACM Creativity and Cognition Conference, New York: ACM Press, 2015.
  • 2009 "Subliminal Wiretapping." Proceedings of the 7th ACM Creativity and Cognition Conference, New York: ACM Press, 2009, 429-430.
  • 2008 "New Media and Education." New Media New Idea New Life: National New Media Art Forum of University Deans, ed. Li Wang, et al., Shanghai: Tongji University Press, 2008, 3-11.
  • 2006 "Ray Tracings of the In Between." ACM SIGGRAPH 2006 Sketches, Sketches Chair Hanspeter Pfister. New York: ACM Press, 2006, 60.